Business and Economy

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Gov. Paul LePage is in Washington this week promoting Maine as a good place to do business.

LePage took his message to the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, a group advocating for biofuels development, urging biofuels developers to consider coming to Maine.

Speaking to the conference in Thursday morning, LePage said the state’s abundant forests could provide the raw material needed for biofuels production. He says Maine has wanted to tap into the Marcellus pipeline project for natural gas, but an alternative would be making gas and other fuels from wood.

BANGOR, Maine - Officials with the town of East Millinocket say they're relieved that a judge has granted a temporary restraining order that keeps buildings at the former Great Northern Paper Mill property from being demolished.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," says Select Board Chair Mark Scally.

Scally says an investment group has been working to create a biofuels facility on that site, and any set-back, such as the loss of important infrastructure, would not have been good news for that project.

A Portland firm that specializes in connecting employers with workers has expanded its website to included student internships into the mix of options for job seekers.

The Live + Work in Maine website is operated by Pro Search of Portland. College administrators, such as James Westhoff at Husson University in Bangor, say students are increasingly using internships to secure employment opportunities.

Short-term rental company Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will start collecting sales taxes from customers in April. That puts the company — and its hosts in Maine — on the same page as Gov. Paul LePage.

LePage says he wants to update the tax code to better account for the burgeoning short-term rental market. The company now says it’s voluntarily agreeing to automatically collect sales taxes on Maine rentals, starting April 1.

Maine's unemployment rate fell last year, to 3.9 percent from 4.4 percent in 2015.   

That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the percentage of Mainers in the workforce climbed from just below 60 percent to just above.

The state's jobless rate for last year was a full percentage point below the national rate and the New England average.

Maine was one of 27 states where unemployment fell last year.

ROCKPORT, Maine - The Maine Lobstering Union has voted to spend $4 million to buy a lobster business in a move members hope will give fishermen a bigger share of profits.

The union voted Saturday to buy the wholesale side of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Trenton. The Portland Press Herald reports that the pound includes a tank that can hold up to 180,000 pounds of lobster.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

It’s a dirty job, but digging for blood and sand worms along the Maine coast can pay well, particularly in areas of the state where it can be hard to make a living. Maine’s annual harvest of these popular bait worms, however, continues to decline, posing a quandary for marine biologists who cite climate change and predation as possible factors.

Wormers, as they’re called, would like to work with marine biologists to ensure a healthy and robust industry.

Central Maine Power’s customers will see some significant savings on their bills starting this summer, thanks to the end of expensive, long-term power contracts.

The contracts originated under a federal law that aimed to hedge against price surges seen in the 1970s energy crisis. Maine Public Utilities Commission spokesman Harry Lanphear says decades-long contracts Maine utilities signed with Maine-based biomass generators ultimately locked them into rates that were far above market rates.

Fishermen at Odds over Impact of Trump Executive Order

Feb 23, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine -Fishing groups are divided over whether President Donald Trump's "one in, two out'' approach to federal regulations will benefit their industry, harm it or affect it at all.
Trump issued an executive order in January that says when a public agency proposes a new regulation, it must also identify two regulations to be repealed. The order caused a flurry of debate, and a lawsuit from political opponents, over whether it's a wise idea or even possible.

PORTLAND, Maine - New numbers from the online short-term rental marketplace Airbnb show that about 174,000 people used the service in Maine 2016.  The company says that's a 100 percent increase from the year before. "Hosts," as they're called, in Maine, earned more than $26 million last year.

The majority of those rentals were in Portland, where about 51,000 people rented Airbnb's -- earning owners about $7 million.

The other top markets were Bar Harbor, South Portland, Ellsworth and Old Orchard Beach.

As President Donald Trump prepares to rewrite his controversial travel ban, a coalition of 500 business leaders and mayors is calling for meaningful immigration reform.

The group, New American Economy, has released an interactive map with state and congressional district-specific data about the economic contributions of immigrants. Supporters are hoping that it will bolster the argument for expanding immigrant worker visas.

DURHAM, N.H. - New Hampshire's maple syrup producers say they are feeling the impact of climate change, as winters become warmer and frigid nights so critical to their business become fewer.

Producers joined climate experts and Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire on Tuesday to talk about the state's changing climate and how it is affecting one of the state's most important industries.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine agency that holds the state's tourism account is picking up another high-profile client.
Nancy Marshall Communications has been named the agency of record for The Orvis Company, the fly-fishing retailer based in Vermont.

Scallops Scuffle Pitting Small Boats Against Big

Feb 20, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A disagreement over the right to fish for scallops off of New England is pitting small boats against big boats in one of the most lucrative fisheries in the U.S.
The federal government maintains different rules for the small- and big-boat fisheries, though they work some of the same areas. Small boat fishermen say the conflict has arisen in the northern Gulf of Maine, a fishing area stretching roughly from Boston to Canada.

Poland Spring is looking to expand.

A continuing surge in the sale of bottled water has the company looking for two new sources of spring water and making plans for a fourth bottling facility somewhere in western Maine or northeast of Bangor.